It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for, a repeat of the 2020 Senior Championship final. Holders Ederney, take on Derrygonnelly, the kingpins of Fermanagh football over the last decade.
Ederney manager Mickey Cassidy says “We’re determined” ahead of Friday night’s showdown in Brewster Park, adding, “If you’re going to win the championship, you’re going to have to beat Derrygonnelly, simple as that. Regardless of it’s the first round, or the semi-final or the final, you’re going to have to beat Derrygonnelly.”
Derrygonnelly’s bid for six in a row was stopped by the St Joseph’s men last September, as Ederney went on to lift their first Senior Championship in 52 years. The stakes are high for both sides, in this, the third quarter final.
“Everybody is out to get you, we saw that last night with Dungannon and Dromore (in the Tyrone Championship). You put yourself up there, so what do you expect? It’s pressure you’d rather have, than not.”
Both teams know each other inside out and Cassidy says the Division One champions were “very impressive” in the league final against Enniskillen Gaels over a fortnight ago.
“We’re going to have to close down the space, for me, they got a lot of space and you can’t give Garvan Jones or any of the inside men time on the ball, they’ll hurt you.
“ They’re all quality, experienced players and as usual they have the sticky defence with Tiarnán (Daly) and Mickey (Jones) who has been one of the best players in the county for years. Basically the whole defence and Stevie (Stephen McGullion) in the middle of the field seems to be playing well.”
Derrygonnelly joint manager, Emlyn Burns says they’re expecting “the same as last year, intensity and a tough game.”
The Harps will be determined to progress to the semi finals and despite having already won the league, Burns says they will need to improve upon aspects of their league final performance if they are going to beat the reigning champions, Ederney.
“We weren’t as clinical as we will need to be this Friday night. We’ll be looking to push on a bit more and put more scores on the scoreboard, we didn’t keep it ticking over enough.”
Burns says the they have a full compliment of players to pick from this weekend with no injury concerns and when asked if they are confident, he says, “we wouldn’t be there if we weren’t confident.”
Ederney recorded a 2-8 to 1-6 win in last year’s decider, Derrygonnelly’s only goal coming from Micheál Glynn in the first five minutes. Glynn won’t be a threat to Ederney this year though, as he has signed a professional contract with Derry City and won’t feature for the Harps.
Ederney hope to call upon the services of key players like centre half forward Mark McCauley, Declan McCusker and Ryan Morris but Mickey says McCauley (quad injury) and McCusker (ankle injury) are in a “race against time.”
Cassidy adds, that Ryan Morris is “still questionable, to say the least”. The corner forward plays right back for Ballinamallard and the Ederney manager says “he’s tied with his contract” but adds, “we have a good enough relationship with Harry (McConkey), so I know every game for them is important, the same as ourselves. It’s not clear yet, we’ll know more later in the week.”
Morris played in the North West Cup semi final on October 5 for McConkey and Cassidy is hopeful he’ll have the talented attacker at his disposal on Friday evening.
The Ederney manager is preparing his team for a tough match.
“It’s going to be a battle, if we’re going to come out on the right side, we’re going to have to match them.
“It’s about getting the performance on the day, you can talk all you want and train all you want but if you don’t get it out of yourself on the day, you won’t win.
Elsewhere, Enniskillen make a return to the Senior Championship on Sunday when they take on Tempo in Ederney at 4pm. In the Intermediate Championship, last year’s Junior champions Derrylin face Devenish on Saturday evening in Brewster Park, Aghadrumsee take on Belcoo in Donagh on Sunday at 4pm and earlier that day, favourites Erne Gaels play the 2020 runners up Maguiresbridge in Ederney at 2pm.
Lisnaskea and Irvinestown will battle it out once more after they played out a draw last weekend in the Intermediate quarter final. Extra time will be played if necessary in Tempo and in the Junior Championship, Division Two league champions St. Patrick’s are set to take on Newtownbutler in Roslea at 4pm
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